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Galatians 1-2


A Devotional Journey 
    led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
            This is one of Paul’s earlier letters and deals with the serious challenge of legalism.  Those in the area of Galatia (in what is now southern Turkey) had been brought into the Christian faith through the missionary work of Paul.  They were almost immediately challenged by those who felt the Jewish practices and traditions held precedence over the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ.   In response the Galatians were giving in to legalistic pressure and beginning to accept the thought that they must be Jews first and Christians second.  This Paul refutes and points out that the covenant of God with His people was always based on faith, not law.
                The doctrine of justification by faith alone is a clear and consistent theme in this book.  During the time of the Reformation (c. A.D. 1500-1550), this book was a key to understanding the theology which motivated Luther and others to reconsider Christian teaching regarding salvation.
                Chapter one begins with the typical greetings and then moves quickly to the main theme some may seek to confuse the issue, but there is only one true gospel –  the one Paul has taught.  He spends time explaining his right and authority to teach this gospel through a presentation of his own testimony (during which he reveals time spent in Arabia and that it was three years before his first visit to Jerusalem as a Christian and fourteen years more before he visited again).
                In chapter two, Paul describes his mission to the Gentiles and contrasts this to the mission of Peter (and others) who sought out Jews as their primary mission group.  It is clear that at the Jerusalem Council (see Acts 15), not only did Peter at first speak out against freedom from Jewish tradition for Gentile converts, but his arguments persuaded even Barnabas.  
                Paul quotes a lengthy speech he made in defense of Gentile (and Christian) freedom, and includes the statement:  “We ... know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”  The basis of salvation is faith, not human effort or accomplishment.
                Do you ever feel like giving up as a Christian because your life does not measure up?  This is a subtle temptation for all believers since the time of Christ Himself.  We first become aware that we can be saved by the grace (or free gift) of God given in the death of His Son on the Cross.  Then, after accepting this truth, and placing our trust in Christ, we begin trying to live up to His standards and, in a sense, prove ourselves worthy of His grace!  But this is impossible:  if we were worthy, there would be no need for grace. 
                Instead we must be thankful for what God has done, and try to live for Him in gratitude, not fear.  As you go through the day, do something to show God you love Him:  most likely through helping someone else.  Thank God that He does not require your obedience as a condition of salvation, but that you have the privilege of serving Him in response to it.
© A.  Eugene Pearson